Museum of the American G.I. debuts new exhibit on the Vietnam War from the perspective of local veterans
“You know we talk about the World War II [generation} being the greatest generation, well this generation was really pretty fabulous as well.”
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - “Voices from Vietnam: Stories from Those Who Served” is the newest addition to the Museum of the American G.I. and focuses on telling the experiences of the Vietnam War through first-hand accounts from Brazos Valley veterans. The museum also says the exhibit is a way of saying “thank you” to those who served.
For Leisha Mullins, Museum of the American G.I. Secretary & Treasurer, this exhibit has been a long time coming and she believes what makes it different is the way it tells the story of the war.
“It really tells the story of each individual veteran that we have been able to interview, so the museum has interviewed a lot of veterans from Vietnam to tell their story,” said Mullins. “We have also been very fortunate that we have been able to work with Tom Turbiville and Bill Youngkin to bring in the stories of veterans they have interviewed into it. Instead of talking about the war in general, it’s very focused on the veterans. Each one has a unique story to tell and a unique experience.”
Mullins believes focusing on first-hand accounts gives people a different perspective.
“These men and women were fabulous. You know we talk about the World War II [generation} being the greatest generation, well this generation was really pretty fabulous as well.”
Countless experiences are told like the one of Bob Pardo, who is known for safely rescuing a comrade airborne in what many know as “Pardo’s Push,” among many others fill the walls along with memorabilia and artifacts.
Mullins says this exhibit has a bigger mission. It’s also to say “thank you” to Vietnam veterans, who Mullins says were not really thanked when they returned from war.
“One of the common effects we have seen from the interviewing of the veterans is most of them did not have a good welcome home at all,” said Mullins. “One veteran recounted a story to me that he was walking through the airport and a little boy waved at him and the mom looked up to see who he was waving at him and she moved her son to the opposite away from him.”
Robert “Vic” Reid, a Vietnam Veteran, experienced this going to Vietnam and when he returned home.
“There were lots of people calling us names as we departed. I didn’t go directly to Vietnam,” said Reid. “I had to go to jungle survival school in the Philippines first, but still experienced that flying civilian airlines, where wearing a uniform we were ostracized basically.”
“And when I returned, I came through San Fransico again and that was the worst part of the whole experience to me, how I wasn’t appreciated,” said Reid. “I was basically called ‘baby killer’ and it was an unpleasant experience.”
Even though Reid didn’t get the proper thank you when he returned home from war, he says seeing the museum thank him for his service now means a lot.
“I think it means a lot,” said Reid. “It mends a lot of feelings we experienced and now it’s been a long time because I returned in 1973, so it’s been almost 50 years. I think it’s really appreciated by Vietnam veterans for sure.”
The museum celebrated the opening of the exhibit with a ceremony Saturday morning with talks from Mullins, Turbiville, and Youngkin. Many Vietnam veterans were in attendance whose stories were also used in the exhibit.
For the opening weekend, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission will be free for Vietnam veterans.
The exhibit will be on display through September.
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